Former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, who portrayed himself as a straight-talking anti-politician determined to clean up the city's notoriously corrupt culture, was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption during his two terms.
Nagin, 58, made himself the public face of misery and suffering during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, exploding at federal and state officials in a profanity-laced radio rant at the height of the city's flooding. But he was convicted Feb. 12 of using his office to enrich himself with bribes from businessmen seeking his help _ much of it for Katrina rebuilding.
During his federal trial, Nagin vigorously denied charges that he accepted money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business. Just before he was sentenced in court Wednesday, he declined to apologize but said, "I trust that God's going to work all this out."
U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan said she deviated from sentencing guidelines that recommended at least 15 years in prison because, in part, she did not view him as the leader or primary beneficiary of the bribery scheme. He was ordered to pay an $84,000 fine.
Press for more sanctions on Russia: Democratic and Republican senators exasperated with the Obama administration's response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine threatened on Wednesday to act unilaterally on new sanctions. "What are we waiting for?" Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked twice at a hearing with senior administration officials from State, Treasury and the Defense departments about targeted sanctions that the administration said it was preparing last month.
Castro easily confirmed: The Senate easily confirmed San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro on Wednesday to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, boosting the national profile of a Democrat with a compelling biography who's considered a vice presidential contender in 2016. The 71-26 vote makes the 39-year-old Castro one of the government's highest-ranking Hispanics, a growing group of voters who lean solidly Democratic.
Fed split on signals for first rate increase: Federal Reserve officials had differing views in June on the best way to signal to financial markets when they might raise a key short-term interest rate. They were in broad agreement, however, that they will likely announce an end to their monthly bond buying program in October. Minutes of the Fed's June 17-18 meeting released Wednesday showed officials split between those who wanted to communicate that the Fed remains concerned that inflation is rising too slowly and those who were worried that the economy might rebound faster than currently expected. In the end, the Fed statement stuck to the current guidance that rates will likely remain low for a "considerable time" after the bond purchases end.
Snowden seeks extension: Fugitive national security contractor Edward Snowden has filed the paperwork to extend his refuge in Russia as the July 31 expiration of his asylum grant approaches, his lawyer told Russian media on Wednesday. Snowden has indicated in interviews during his yearlong stay in Russia that he would like to move on elsewhere or even come home to the United States if he could be assured of getting a fair trial on the espionage charges the U.S. Justice Department has filed against him.
GM to recall Saab cars: General Motors is recalling 28,789 Saab convertibles because the driver's safety belt retractor can break. The recall involves vehicles from the 2004-11 model years. GM says if the retractor breaks, the seat belt will immediately loosen and won't work properly. That increases the risk of an injury in an accident. The company isn't aware of any injuries related to the issue. GM will contact owners and dealers will replace the seat belt retractors for free. GM owned Saab at the time many of the vehicles were made. It sold the brand in 2010.
Harley-Davidson recalling motorcycles: Harley-Davidson is recalling 66,421 Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles from the 2014 model year because their front wheels can lock up without warning. Motorcycles with anti-lock brakes built between July 1, 2013, and May 7, 2014, are included in the recall. Harley-Davidson will notify owners later this month. Dealers will replace the brake lines for free and attach straps to hold them in place.